If you are selling goods or services online to countries outside the European Union (EU) they are known as exports and there are certain guidelines you must follow.

Am I in business if I export goods or services online?

Yes, you are in business and you must take the appropriate steps to register correctly as a sole trader, partnership or limited company.

What are online exports?

Exports are goods or services that you supply to customers outside the EU. They include goods or services which have been sold online or by other distance selling arrangements.

Goods

  1. Even if you are a VAT registered business, the goods are zero rated. You must complete a customs declaration when the goods are sent out. Complete this form for goods up to a value of £270Complete this form for goods over a value of £270.
  2. You must obtain and retain documentary evidence of the export (proof of export).

Services

  1. If the service is supplied outside the EU it is outside the scope of VAT, even if you are a VAT registered business.
  2. You must obtain and retain documentary evidence of the export (proof of export).

 

What is a proof of export?

If a UK business sells goods overseas the UK business must obtain and keep a proof of export (also called evidence of removal) to avoid charging UK VAT. These documents are used to prove that a supply has taken place and the goods have been removed from the UK. 

This documentation needs to be kept for six years. 

Checklist: What does a proof of export include?

Login to save this checklist to your profile for future use - as you work through the list, any checkboxes that are ticked or unticked will be automatically saved to your profile. (To register to join and enjoy the benefits of membership click on the link at the top right of the page. It will only take a few minutes to create your profile).

What else must I do if I am exporting from online orders?

For online selling to customers you must:

  1. State clearly the steps involved to the customer placing an order
  2. Acknowledge the order from the customer as soon as possible
  3. Take reasonable steps to allow the customer to correct any errors before they place the order
  4. Let the customer know what languages are available
  5. Make sure customers can store or print your terms and conditions
  6. Provide your email address
  7. Provide your VAT number (if registered)
  8. Clearly show the prices and delivery costs of your goods or services. 

Next Steps

Exporting goods outside the EU: detailed guidance from GOV.UK

Customs requirements, duties and VAT you must pay to export goods to a 'third country' outside the EU.

Read more

Starting to export - advice from GOV.UK

If you plan to start exporting, you’ll need to follow rules that depend on whether your goods or services are going to a country:

  • in the EU
  • outside the EU
  • outside the EU via an EU country

Read more

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